Switching to remote has massive upsides for the sports broadcast industry  

Despite this challenging time for the industry, the switch to remote production – an experiment barely a year ago – is near-universal and permanent.   

The move goes hand in hand with the ability to streamline costs and yet deliver strong and sustained engagement with viewers across all platforms from social to OTT to TV.   

With the Olympics leading the charge, spectators and major international events will (fingers crossed) return in 2021 fueled by substantive adoption of remote and fully distributed production which will be further enhanced as technology like 5G rolls out to drive applications in contribution and fan interaction.  

“The last year has forced us all to look at remote production as a serious option and it looks like it will be here to stay,” says Mark Dennis, Director of Technical Operations at leading sports producer Sunset+Vine. “For 2021 we now need to look at the processes we have put in place and develop the technology to further enhance our productions.”   

Technology transformation 

Outlining BT Sport’s technology priorities for the year ahead, Chief Operating Officer Jamie Hindhaugh points out that the one significant change from a year ago is that remote production “is now our preferred and standard operating model.”  

BT Sport, one of the world’s most progressive broadcasters, has also begun its transition from delivering the decades-old static (broadcaster-directed) view of a live event to one in which it will offer viewers the chance to immersive themselves in the action with personalized interactive experiences such as selectable camera angles.  

It’s a massive year for Eurosport too which will be looking to capitalize on the rights it owns to the Tokyo Olympics (building toward the 2022 and 2024 Games) and the recent launch of OTT service Discovery+.   

Eurosport’s technology transformation program is built on IP networks and virtualized machines at scale. “The project is a key enabler for our business and Discovery’s Olympics coverage, as well as facilitating the acceleration of remote based production and digital viewers,” explains Gordon Castle the company’s SVP, Technology. “2020 has shown that Eurosport can successfully produce events with extensive remote production.”  

Moving into 2021, sports broadcasters like Eurosport will continue to pivot their technology stacks – and then production itself – to the cloud.  Critical partnerships with vendors are expected to develop features that enable solutions to support the evolution of remote production, helping to create both broader and more targeted content for consumers.   

5G opens up opportunity 

Venue connectivity will be another key to remote production growth.  With the right end-to-end solution, broadcasters can leverage 5G’s potential to eliminate bottlenecks and squeeze the costs out of resource-intensive live production workflows. 

For now, 5G can be deployed as a back-up link to the primary connection, delivering multiple high-quality feeds and replacing the less efficient method of diverse routing over fixed connectivity.  

As 5G matures and penetrates the market it promises to change the media landscape. The potential of more bandwidth at a lower cost opens up a host of opportunities for broadcast industry players who benefit from economies of scale and new market segments.  

For example, camera operators can be more flexible and mobile as they can leverage 5G to connect cameras to production facilities without cables. Production teams can arrange ‘pop-up’ production capabilities that use the 5G network to deliver multiple camera signals back to a central hub. Staff can mix video captured by traditional cameras with those on 5G-enabled smartphones creating multi-camera experiences and new angles that were not possible before.  

Net Insight’s Nimbra solution portfolio is designed for next-generation media processing and delivery workflows that are 5G-ready. Built on open standards, broadcasters can ingest and distribute any live media stream, in any format, securely to multiple destinations across any IP network, with 5G dramatically increasing network capacity to make this process faster and more reliable.  

This change is already happening and Net Insight is leading the way.   

Previous blogs:

The evolution of distributed live production

Microservices and advanced orchestration drives personalized streaming

Real-time streaming takes live sports to next level

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